New Study: Utilities can meet energy-saving goals (MN Dept of Commerce)

Dec 5, 2018

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, releases Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study (2020-2029). The statewide study was led by CEE, in collaboration with Optimal Energy and Seventhwave. The study was funded through Minnesota's Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grant with the intent to inform future utility program strategies, specifically related to the state's Conservation Improvement Program.

MN DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE RELEASE: New study finds that Minnesota utilities can continue to meet or exceed energy-saving goals over the next decade

December 4, 2018, St. Paul — “Thanks to the state’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), Minnesota is a longtime national leader in energy efficiency,” said Bill Grant, Deputy Commerce Commissioner for the Division of Energy Resources, which administers the state’s energy policies and programs. “This new study outlines how Minnesota can continue its success with both existing and new energy-saving measures that benefit Minnesota households and businesses.”

A separate study about Minnesota’s energy future, also recently prepared for the Commerce Department, found that Minnesota could achieve 10 percent solar energy by 2025 at costs comparable to natural gas generation. The study’s findings also suggest that expected cost reductions for solar, wind and storage could enable Minnesota to achieve 70 percent solar and wind by 2050.

The “Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study: 2020-2029” was led by the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) and funded by a grant from the Commerce Department’s Conservation Applied Research and Development Program. The study is based on independent research and analysis, with participation from a broad range of energy stakeholders in the state.

“We thank the many utilities, clean energy organizations, consumer advocates and businesses who provided input throughout the study process,” said Carl Nelson, lead CEE researcher on the study. “Their expert insights helped ensure that this is the robust, data-driven study Minnesota needs now to support ongoing high energy efficiency achievements.”

The 2007 Next Generation Energy Act established Minnesota’s energy efficiency resource standard, requiring utilities to develop plans to achieve energy savings of 1.5 percent of average annual retail sales each year.

The new study finds that Minnesota electric utilities, as a whole, have met or exceeded the 1.5 percent goal each year since 2011. Minnesota gas utilities, overall, have met the one percent minimum, but only exceeded the 1.5 percent goal in 2017. Both electric and natural gas utilities have seen a steady increase in energy conservation achievements over the past decade.

According to the study, Minnesota currently has some of the lowest-cost and best-performing utility energy conservation programs in the nation. Looking ahead, the study provides detailed guidance on how utilities can achieve additional cost-effective energy savings over the next decade.

“We were pleased to provide a municipal utility perspective to this study that brought stakeholders together and fostered the discussions necessary to continue to make energy efficiency a priority,” said John O’Neil, manager at Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA). “To achieve the 1.5 percent CIP energy savings goal, this study identifies opportunities for additional cost-effective savings and will help SMMPA develop new programs to achieve the long-term potential.”

“The Center for Energy and Environment’s approach to this difficult and complex topic contributed to producing a report that will be useful as Minnesotans continue to consider the future of energy efficiency in the state,” said Nick Mark, manager of Conservation and Renewable Energy Policy for CenterPoint Energy. “In particular, there was an admirable effort placed on continual engagement with a broad group of stakeholders to guide the study’s direction and focus.”

“Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study: 2020-2029” is available at the Commerce Department website ( and at

Webinar to cover results, recommendations

A webinar will be held on Dec. 17 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to highlight the results and recommendations for Minnesota’s emerging energy efficiency opportunities over the next decade. Learn more and register for the webinar.

About the Conservation Improvement Program

Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) is overseen by the Minnesota Commerce Department and administered by electric and natural gas utilities throughout the state. The program helps Minnesota households and businesses use electricity and natural gas more efficiently – saving energy, lowering carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the need for new utility infrastructure.

About the Center for Energy and Environment

The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) is a Minnesota clean energy nonprofit with special expertise in energy efficiency that stretches back nearly 40 years. CEE provides practical and cost-effective energy solutions for homes, businesses, and communities to strengthen the economy while improving the environment.

Read the original MN Dept of Commerce news release

Media contacts
Tim Hanrahan, Director of Communications, Center for Energy and Environment, 612-244-2419
Ross Corson, Director of Communications, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 651-539-1463

Related links

Final Report: MN Energy Efficiency Potential Study 2020–2029 (December 2018)
MN Potential Study website (webinar recording & slide deck)
Slipstream (formerly Seventhwave), project partner
Optimal Energy, project partner
Study: Utilities should be able to meet state efficiency standards (Star Tribune)